PFM rules govern how budgets are formed, disbursed and accounted for. PFM refers to the set of laws, rules, systems and processes used by sovereign nations (and sub-national governments), to mobilise revenue, allocate public funds, undertake public spending, account for funds and audit results.

The free online course Understanding Public Financial Management will help you to learn why states are effective and accountable when they are underpinned by good PFM institutions and systems.

About the course

What went wrong in Greece’s handling of its public debt? How does a city government like Detroit go from prosperity to bankruptcy? And how could the looting, theft and corruption in Malawi’s “cashgate” have been avoided?

We are all concerned about where “our” money goes. We all want good roads and schools, thriving industry, and personal and national security, but how can we be sure that public monies are being managed properly, and how can we hold those in charge to account?

What you will learn

Understand and evaluate the management of public finances

This free online course will provide you with the knowledge and tools to understand and evaluate the management of financial resources across the public sector, wherever you are.

Drawing on the expertise of the Centre for Financial and Management Studies at SOAS, University of London, the free online course will look at:

  • how governments and public sector organisations obtain financial resources through taxation, fees, charges, natural resources and other means;
  • how public sector organisations decide to use financial resources for attaining public policy goals and implementing public programmes;
  • how public sector organisations report their financial performance to the public;
  • how the use of public financial resources is audited;
  • and how governments are made accountable for their financial decisions.

By the end of the four-week course, you will be able to:

  • understand the basics of public financial management;
  • read simple public sector financial statements;
  • explain how governments raise finance through various means;
  • explain how the budget process works at national and sub-national levels;
  • understand how auditing is conducted in public sector organisations;
  • understand how public sector organisations are held accountable to the public


This is a general level course, however some knowledge of economics, political science, or accounting may be useful. This course would also be of interest to those already working in public sector management or simply looking for a better understanding of contemporary financial issues.

About the instructor

Alberto Asquer is a lecturer in Public Policy and Management at SOAS University of London. He does research on the management of public sector entities, public financial management, and regulation.

Starting date: 27 January, 2017

Duration: 4 weeks, 4 hours per week

Language: English

Instructors: Alberto Asquer

InstitutionSOAS University of London


Join the conversation on social media

Use the hashtag #FLpfm to join and contribute to social media conversations about this course.